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Obama On Same-Sex Marriage Ruling: We've Made U.S. 'A Little More Perfect'


Hundreds of people were in front of the U.S. Supreme Court this morning waiting, looking at their smart phones, watching for interns who would be running the court's decision to journalists waiting to go on air with the news. And just after 10 a.m. Eastern, this...


CORNISH: An historic victory for gay rights today. The Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution guarantees the right for same-sex couples to marry no matter where they are.


UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Chanting) Gay, straight, black, white, marriage is a civil right. Gay, straight, black, white, marriage is a...


The 5 to 4 decision makes same-sex marriage legal nationwide. President Obama said America should be proud.


BARACK OBAMA: Today, we can say, in no uncertain terms, that we've made our union a little more perfect.

MARTIN: He said that was a consequence not only of the Supreme Court decision, but more importantly, he said, of countless small acts of courage by millions who made an entire country realize that love is love.


OBAMA: Today should also give us hope that on the many issues with which we grapple, often painfully, real change is possible. Shifts in hearts and minds is possible.

CORNISH: Shortly after the decision came down, the lead plaintiff in the case emerged from the court to address the jubilant crowd.


JIM OBERGEFELL: Good morning. My name is Jim Obergefell, and I'm from Cincinnati, Ohio.

CORNISH: When his husband, John Arthur, died of ALS in 2013, Obergefell was barred from being listed on the death certificate. His fight led him to this moment in front of the Supreme Court.


OBERGEFELL: I know in my heart the John is with me today. That man cared for and loved me for 21 years through thick and thin. Today's ruling from the Supreme Court affirms what millions across this country already know to be true in our hearts - our love is equal.

MARTIN: The ruling, of course, was not welcomed by all. In Texas, Stephen Wagner of Fort Worth spoke of his Christian values and expressed fear of what the decision may mean for his religious beliefs.

STEPHEN WAGNER: I have a feeling this is going to somehow affect our church within a few years. I can see our pastor or somebody being - basically being put in prison because they failed to marry a same-sex couple.

CORNISH: In his dissent, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the majority's decision, quote, "has no basis in the Constitution." The fundamental right to marry, he says, does not include a right to make a state change its definition of marriage, and a state's decision to maintain the meaning of marriage that has persisted in every culture throughout human history can hardly be called irrational. He goes on, for those who believe in a government of laws, not of men, the majority's approach is deeply disheartening. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.